GERMANY and Britain have said that efforts to revive the global economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic must ensure a ‘green recovery’ that helps the world tackle climate change.
The 11th Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place on 27 and 28 April as a video conference.
At the invitation of Germany’s Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze, ministers from some 35 countries discussed ways of enhancing climate protection and explore solutions for the international climate negotiations.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma, who co-hosted the two-day talks, known as the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, said that “the world must work together, as it has to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, to support a green and resilient recovery, which leaves no one behind”.
In his closing remarks, Mr Sharma stated: “I think from my perspective and Minister Schulze’s perspective, it’s very good that we’ve had all colleagues acknowledging that the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals, are a very strong framework to guide our recovery.
“The Secretary General made a point where he talked about that we are in a difficult place in terms of the global economy right now, but it is always, as he said, darkest before the dawn.
“Of course, we do believe that COP26 can be that moment and lead up to COP26 can be those footsteps when the world comes together to ramp up momentum towards a climate resilient zero carbon economy.
“I can tell you that as incoming COP Presidency, our promise from the UK together with Italy, is that our teams will work night and day to raise the ambition on climate change.
“This does mean more ambition to reduce emissions, more ambition to build resilience, and more ambition to cooperate with each other, as we have done and shown today.
“And, of course, as we recover this transition must be fair and inclusive, which many of you have made the point on, and we must make sure that no-one is left behind.”
Speaking ahead of the virtual meeting, Germany’s environment minister said it was important for economic recovery programs to invest in future-proof jobs that would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in coming years, rather than aim for a return to business as usual.
Svenja Schulze told The Associated Press, noting that some countries are holding onto plans to build new coal-fired power plants: “We mustn’t invest in technologies of the past.”
Scientists have warned that there’s little time left if the world wants to achieve the headline goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord — keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally 1.5 C.
Some have also likened the strategy adopted by countries in fighting the pandemic — the idea of flattening the curve of infections so health systems don’t collapse — to the need to bring down the rate of greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming.
“Unlike in the fight against the coronavirus, we already know the vaccines for the climate crisis,” Ms Schulze said, adding that they included renewable energy, electric mobility, recycling and low-energy housing.
Environmental campaigners have warned that heavily polluting industries are already seeking to tap into the vast sums being lined up by governments to stimulate the economy.
Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, told the press: “We are seeing the internal documents from industries indicating that they are trying to use this moment where public money is being put back into the economy to prop up their industries, whether it be the aviation industry… (or) the oil industry.
“It’s just really important, particularly with the oil industry, to note that this type of volatility that we’re seeing right now, it’s a rehearsal for what climate chaos will bring to the oil market in the future.
“These are risky investments. They were risky investments before this crisis, and they are risky investments moving forward.”
Ahead of the meeting, 68 companies released a statement on Monday saying they, too, support linking pandemic recovery with the fight against climate change.
The companies included AIDA Cruises, insurance giant Allianz, Deutsche Telekom and sportswear firm Puma.